Angie Sandbulte, a paraprofessional at Luverne High School, is especially interested in the class of 2020 because of her niece, an upcoming graduate from Hills-Beaver Creek High School.
“My heart just breaks for her,” Sandbulte said.
After years of anticipating the special moment of walking across a stage in a cap and gown, Sandbulte’s niece ― along with hundreds of other area seniors ― is missing that opportunity due to the novel coronavirus.
Sandbulte was invited to join a Facebook group that would connect Sioux Falls, South Dakota seniors with community members interested in sending them cards, gifts and other encouragement.
Instead of participating in that group, Sandbulte reached out to the administrator and asked to borrow the same method for graduates in southwest Minnesota.
She launched her group, Adopt a Senior in Southwest Minnesota, on May 1. It is open to families within a 25-mile radius of Luverne, which includes seven schools: Luverne, Pipestone, Ellsworth, Adrian, Hills-Beaver Creek, Edgerton Public and Southwest Christian.
Parents of seniors can submit their child for adoption by the community, including the graduate’s favorite things and hobbies. Community members may then sign up to “adopt” each kid by doing nice things like writing cards or giving small gifts. For example, one student received a gift basket filled with items that were her favorite color, Sandbulte shared.
In the last two weeks, about 160 seniors’ names have been submitted, and they have all been adopted so far.
“That’s the thing I can’t get over,” Sandbulte shared. “People have just said, ‘Yeah, I’ll help.’”
Those seniors who have been adopted so far are touched by the gesture.
“They’re moved to see that someone is thinking of them,” Sandbulte said.
She would like to see each senior between the seven schools eventually be adopted.